September 22, 2008

Heart Attack Day

I hadn't had red meat in a while, and I'd been craving it for weeks. Finally, last Friday I picked up a package of bacon from Flying Pigs and a cut of Grazin' Angus Acres steak, and then unintentially cooked both meats last Sunday, on what you might call "Heart Attack Day." Except since I eat pork and steak so infrequently, I think it's okay to treat myself once in a while.

Brunch was a spiffed up breakfast sandwich featuring sunnyside eggs, bacon, and sliced tomato on toasted rye bread.

I usually put Jesse in charge of cooking the bacon, but this time I wanted to experiment by cooking one batch in the oven and one batch on the stovetop. Google led me to many rave reviews about how awesome oven-baked bacon is - crisp meat and simple cleanup. But I cannot agree. As directed, I preheated my oven to 400 degrees, lined a baking pan with aluminum foil, laid my bacon down, and put it in the oven. And kept checking. And checking. Recipes indicated that it would only need about 15 minutes in the oven, but after more than 30 minutes it still wasn't crispy, even after turning the heat up to 400. So I took it out and ate it as it was - which was fine, it just wasn't that awesome crunch I was craving.

My stovetop bacon was undoubtedly superior - crispy to the point of crunchy - which was the way I like it. It was done in under ten minutes, and I didn't think cleaning out my pan was all that hard. So I definitely fall in the stovetop bacon camp.

Once brunch was devoured, I set to work at marinating my steak. I bought a flat iron steak, because it was the only cheap cut he had left. I read that this is a relatively new cut in the world of meat, taken from the shoulder, and it tastes best after marinating, much like flank steak. After trimming off a ton of fat from the steak, I laid it in my usual marinade mixture of balsamic vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, water, diced garlic, salt, and pepper - and this time I added some chopped fresh sage from my deck.

I let the steak marinate for about eight hours while I enjoyed a very relaxing Sunday....dreamily reading through pretty magazines on my sundappled bed, and then a scrabble game and pumpkin ale in Black Rabbit's pretty green backyard.

In the evening, I put Jesse to work at the grill. He achieved a beautiful charred crust on the steak, though I have no idea how, because he wouldn't tell me - he's keeping it a "chef's secret"!

For a side, I whipped up colorful smashed potatoes and rainbow swiss chard (the purple tint comes from a mixture of Adriondack blue potato and yukon gold potato). I was going for a cross between potato salad, with its crunch and mayo-mustardy flavor, and colcannon mashed potatoes, dotted with creamy greens. I ingeniously chopped the swiss chard stems into little pieces to stand in for the traditional celery of potato salad, while swiss chard stood in for the cabbage that's traditionally mashed into colcannon. It turned out as deliciously as I had dreamed. I meant to save some for lunch the next day, but it was so good I ate it all at dinner - oops! Together with the hearty iron-rich steak, this dinner was exactly what my body needed!

Smashed Potatoes and Swiss Chard
2 medium-large sized potatoes
1 bunch swiss chard
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon

Rinse and chop potatoes into 2 inch pieces. Add potatoes to a pot of salted boiling water and simmer for about 20 minutes, until tender. Drain in colander, reserving a tablespoon of cooking water.

Rinse swiss chard. Chop stems into small pieces and set aside. Chop swiss chard leaves into chiffonade. Sautee swiss chard leaves in olive oil over medium low heat until wilted.

Combine potatoes, wilted swiss chard, and swiss chard stems in a bowl. Add reserved cooking water, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and then mash with a fork or wooden spoon to desired smashed consistency. Serves 2 as a side dish.

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